The fact is that in many ways Tillerson - despite being a former ExxonMobil chief executive who had never served in government - represents the very Washington establishment that Trump showers with contempt. After hours of bureaucratic tug-of-war, Tillerson, in his final somber turn before the cameras, said he would be delegating his responsibilities to deputy secretary John Sullivan at the end of the workday and would resign effective at the end of the month.
President Trump's decision to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday had members of Maine's congressional delegation focusing on his replacement, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and the challenges he will face from Russian Federation and North Korea if he is confirmed by the Senate.
"What is most important is to ensure an orderly and smooth transition during a time that the country continues to face significant policy and national security challenges", Tillerson, whose voice quivered at times, told reporters in a packed briefing room.
Trump said Gina Haspel, who was tapped as the CIA's deputy director just last month, will succeed Pompeo, becoming the first woman to be chosen for the role.
Other European officials and former USA officials said Pompeo's rise, if he is confirmed as secretary of state by the Senate, might have a more ambiguous effect on the negotiations and that, in any case, Trump's views are paramount.
A US intelligence community report in January 2017 found with "high confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved an "influence campaign" that would help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.
Trump said Haspel is an "outstanding person".
The State Department was unaware of the reasons for Tillerson's firing, an official there said Tuesday morning. The abrupt announcement ended the turbulent tenure of the man who reportedly called the president a "moron" but wanted to stay, and deepened the disarray in the Trump administration.
Iran agreed before Trump took office to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions. Tillerson and Trump disagreed on the correct course of action with Tillerson trying to diplomatically mend fences while Trump sought to align against Qatar.
Tillerson, who had been traveling in Africa last week, cut short his trip to return to the U.S.
He also said he was proud that the U.S. "exceeded expectations of everyone" on the campaign to pressure North Korea to denuclearise despite years of continued development in the face of United Nations and USA sanctions.
The promise of Pompeo is that finally, someone who knows how to work with Trump will take charge.
The firing of Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil chief, came after he joined British Prime Minister Theresa May in pointing the finger at Russia and President Vladimir Putin in the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury.
It is not unusual in the Trump administration for top officials to learn from others that they have been fired. To say this president has a devil of a time finding that team is a gross understatement.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Corker said his committee would hold a confirmation hearing for Pompeo in April, committing to "consider his nomination as expeditiously as possible".